Over the weekend: German election results putting pressure on Merkel

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The ARD exit poll showed only 13 percent of CDU voters believed Merkel had helped the party in Hesse, down from 70 percent at the last state election, reflecting voter anger at her decision in 2015 to welcome nearly one million, mainly Muslim asylum seekers.

Shifting tectonic plates in German politics are set to mark a second regional election in as many weeks Sunday, threatening fresh aftershocks for Chancellor Angela Merkel's battered Berlin coalition.

While the CDU remained the largest party in the election, which was held in the central state of Hesse, results were down 10% from the previous election.

The CDU now governs the state in coalition with the Greens.

The protest party has eaten into both the CDU and SPD vote by railing against migrants and refugees as well as uncaring Berlin elites.

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Increasing numbers of SPD members are calling for the party to quit government immediately and lick its wounds in opposition, as it is presently polling below AfD nationwide, at 15 percent to the far-right's 16 percent.

Still, the CDU seemed to have avoided a worst-case scenario in Hesse: The potential humiliation of losing control of the state, as left-leaning parties appeared to have fallen short of the backing needed to form a government on their own.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has told the Christian Democratic Union of Germany (CDU) that she will not be running for re-election as it's chairwoman in December according to sources on Monday.

Back in 2013, the CDU had to make a coalition with the Alliance 90/The Greens after the election resulted in no clear victor.

The Greens placed third, just barely trailing behind the Social Democrats with 19.5 percent of the votes. That decision has led to lasting tensions in her conservative Union bloc, particularly with the CDU's Bavaria-only sister party, the Christian Social Union.

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The other big victor was the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD), which entered the Hesse regional assembly for the first time with 12 percent of the vote, the ARD exit poll showed.

Angela Merkel has reportedly told leaders of her conservative party that this will be her final parliamentary term as Germany's chancellor.

SPD leader Andrea Nahles said she would use a roadmap with which to measure the progress of the ruling coalition, which has been plagued by infighting, at a mid-term review next year.

After allowing more than one million migrants into Germany since 2015, sparking a strong backlash against immigration, Merkel has been battling for her political future.

"If this government were to break apart now, it would come down to early elections", CDU general secretary Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer said this week. The CDU is due to elect a new party chair at a conference in December.

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Of the SPD, he added: "A party on the way down can not suddenly rise from the ashes by going into the opposition".